A Blue Slip


Due to my ‘advanced maternal age,’ I got to go to the high-risk doctor for special tests and lots of ultrasounds with his super high tech machine. Like if a regular ultrasound can show you the sex of the baby, Dr. Rosmond’s machine could tell you if the baby was going to have good hair. Serious testing. We used to call Dr. Rosmond “the geriatric uterologist.”

And all that testing meant that we got to find out the sex of the baby a few weeks earlier than most. G couldn’t make it to the visit that would reveal whether Baby #2 was going to be a Carlos or a Lucretia. When I told the ultrasound tech about our dilemma, she told me that she would write the sex on a piece of paper and seal it up for me, so that G and I could open it together.

He called just as I was leaving the doctor’s office. We agreed to meet at my friend Marti’s restaurant next door. I ordered a huge blueberry muffin and took it out onto the patio to wait for G. I remember being nervous as a cat–jangly nerves and swooping stomach. By the time G got there, I felt like an overcooked noodle. We set the envelope on the table and looked at each other.

We had two girls. We knew what to do with girls. We talked about “the girls.” We had lots of girl clothes and girl curtains and girl…everything.

I opened the envelope slowly. Slid out the folded white paper inside. Unfolded the crease.

A blue slip.

G cried. He always cries. We knew right away that we would name our son Carlos after G’s late father. We had already decided on that the first go-round.

I admitted it then and I’ll still confess it now–I felt the least little bit of disappointment when that blue slip fluttered out of the envelope. A boy? What were we going to do with a boy? A boy?? I didn’t know anything about boys (except for the five nephews, of course). A boy seemed so different. How do you raise a child for a life that you have never experienced yourself? I felt like I would be starting all over again with the learning curve. I knew how to mother a girl…now a boy?

My friend, Libby, and I were laughing about this the other day. She remembers me being dumbfounded at the idea of mothering a BOY.

But y’all. This boy? This boy is my whole heart. Big Gay always said, “You will NEVER understand how much your parents love you until you have children of your own.” Damn if she wasn’t right.

As much as I’ve worried over his development the last year or so, he astonishes me every day. I looked down on the carpet where he was playing with puzzle pieces to see this:

My boy knows how to spell.

My boy knows how to spell.

He can spell. And he spelled “MOM.”

At work, we call the form that you fill out for a job change a “blue slip.” Even though it’s been many years since it was an actual form or actually blue. I feel like Carlos gave me my blue slip into a different kind of mothering. Mothering someone who isn’t like me, who won’t live in the same world as me. I know it’s projection–this idea I have that Vivi is more similar to me because she is the same sex. But as a woman who was a girl, mothering a girl seemed like one less degree of separation. Mothering a boy taught me that degrees of separation don’t matter when it comes to the ones we love. With him, I am learning to mother the person-ness of him, not the girlness or the boyness. And that has made me a better mother to Vivi’s person-ness and Victoria’s person-ness.

My son’s differences are few compared to our samenesses. When I’m in the hammock with a book, he climbs in beside me…even if he uses his feet to turn the pages.


6 thoughts on “A Blue Slip

  1. Michelle Golden

    I needed this today! I just found out I’m having a girl this time, and I’m happy on the one hand and terrified on the other.
    My boy is easy (okay, a HUGE handful, but easy in a way)– we dig up worms and play t-ball all day. If he’s outdoors and active, he’s happy– no princess dresses required.

    Navigating parenting a girl through a sea of pink, body image issues, teaching her how to be strong in a world that frowns on women who speak out… those things terrify me because I feel like I struggle with them so much myself.
    Maybe having a mom who has a doctorate now (!) will do a little bit to set a good example. 😉

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Hey, Michelle!!! I was just thinking about you last night (I was thinking about how wonderful it is when I meet a reader in real life!). Congratulations on your PhD AND your daughter. You’re plenty smart and conscientious and caring to mother anyone through anything. I like the fact that my daughter sees me loving my job and my friends and my volunteer work. I’m one example…she’ll have plenty!

  2. Tracy

    I hated that whole advanced maternal age thing. I did feel “advanced” at the time but I do now!!! Oh my aching back but with that comes the ache in my heart. I never knew I could love so much.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      I thought AMA stood for Against Medical Advice…at least it does in the hospital!

  3. Mary Ann Howard

    After Margaret was born and Mother was leaving to go back home after a week of helping me adjust to having a baby in the house, she said to me, “Remember, I love you as much as you love her.” It is the single finest thing anyone has ever said to me. Something I couldn’t understand until I had that love to share with my child.


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